About Robyn Roste

The short story is I'm a professional writer living and working in Abbotsford, BC Canada.

Finding Keywords SEO Tips for Writers

At some point in your writing career you’ll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. I say it’s a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

Keywords SEO Tips

Finding Keywords for SEO

Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there’s a good chance you’re doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow. Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.

SEO Tips

  1. Answer questions your audience is asking

    Think about the audience you serve and the types of questions they’re asking. Then take those questions and answer them. If you take the time to figure out what questions your target audience, customer or reader is asking, the more you increase your chance of them finding your answers. It’s amazing stuff.

    If you don’t know what questions are being asked browse through forums and Facebook groups. These are a gold mine when doing customer research. And if that fails, talk to some real people. Find out what they’re confused about and try and help clarify.

  2. Figure out three or four main topics for your website

    If you’ve done any type of editorial planning then you understand how this is done. If not, think about the main themes or categories of the product or service you’re writing about. Then break those main ideas down into smaller topic ideas or sub-categories. Continue breaking the ideas down into smaller and smaller ideas until you’re as focused as possible. You now have a HUGE amount of on-topic keywords to build articles and content around.

  3. And my favourite keyword hack

  4. Look at what others in your industry/niche are writing about

    Browse their websites and see what topics they’re addressing. Is there anything missing? Can you offer more information about one of those topics on your site? Can you go deeper on any of these themes? See what your competitors are doing and improve on it.

    If you don’t know who your competitors are you can open up an incognito browser and Google your theme or topic. See who ranks in the top (not counting ads) and check out the articles. Ask these same questions and see how you can improve on what’s already ranking well in search.

One last tip: Tech Tools

If you’re stumped for ideas online tools like Wordstream’s Keyword Tool or Google Trends will help you brainstorm ideas. They will also give you a good indication of how many people are searching for the term so you don’t waste your time answering questions no one is asking.

A few years ago my website was quite random and unfocused. I spent a lot of time writing about whatever struck my fancy and not much time wondering what people would like to read. One day I realized I was ranking as the number four search in Google for “DIY Chocolate Bubble Bath.” I thought that was pretty great until I realized I have no interest in the topic, offer no services or products on that topic and no one ever actually searches for that topic. Oops.


The closer your keywords are to the actual topics you cover and services you offer the better your SEO ranking will be. Part of your website’s value comes from how long people spend on your site. If you show up in search and people click on your link only for them to leave a second later, this tells Google the search result wasn’t relevant to the user and over time your ranking will go down until it disappears altogether.

There is a bit of a learning curve to figuring out keywords and SEO but if you keep it simple and think about what your audience is searching for online, you’re on your way to optimizing your writing.

At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn’t figure out how to brainstorm ideas. It was pretty hard in fact, to the point where I felt regular terror when I sat down to write.

Brainstorm ideas

The blank page would stare at me, judging. Sometimes there would be so much pressure I would crumple under it, give up and watch television instead. And after enough time of that happening I would skip the pretending to write part altogether and go straight to television.

But this didn’t make me feel good about myself so after allowing the self-pity to continue for an awkward amount of time I pulled up my socks and learned how to brainstorm ideas for writing. And I’m pleased to say it’s something you can do too.

How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write. Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

First, you need to know who your ideal reader is. This may seem like a strange step for brainstorming ideas for writing but trust me, this is a key step. Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

Answer these questions

  • What does your ideal reader tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what is your ideal reader most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page. This time, write down everything you’d like to write about one day. It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing any good brainstorming ideas? Are you seeing some common threads? Find four topics that match both what you want to write about and what your ideal reader is struggling with. Once you find four, write them down.

This last step is the most fun

Decide how much you’re going to write and break down your topics into sub-categories. For example, if I have four main topics and I decide I want to write one blog post per week, then I need 52 sub-categories. That is around 13 ideas per topic. While this seems like a lot I don’t need more than a word or short phrase at this point. I’ll list a few of my brainstorm ideas for the next few blog posts below as an example of what I mean.

  • How to brainstorm blog posts (that’s this post, by the way)
  • Keywords
  • Places to find freelance jobs
  • Prescriptive non-fiction
  • Where to get free stock photos

But what if you can’t think of sub-categories? Or what if you have a few ideas but can’t get to 13? Here are a few suggestions for finding topic ideas.

Brainstorm ideas for coming up with sub-categories

  • Pay attention to questions people ask you. If you hear a question you think your ideal reader would ask, write it down
  • If you’re in any online networking groups, take a look around and see the types of questions being asked and the conversations happening. Again, if you see something your ideal reader might be interested in, write it down
  • Go through your emails and see what types of topics the people you follow are addressing. Anything interesting in there? Is there a new angle or spin you can put on the topic and to help your ideal reader in some way?
  • Pick a topic from your list of “I’d like to write about this one day” ideas. Maybe it’s not a top four topic but it might make a perfect sub-category!

If you try these ideas and are still super stuck, here’s a helpful seven-step method to come up with brainstorm ideas fast.

This is the main way I come up with brainstorm ideas whenever I’m working on something new. I’ll condense the steps here for a quick reminder.

Steps for finding brainstorm ideas

  1. First, I put myself in the shoes of my ideal reader and think about what s/he would like to read
  2. Second, I write a quick list of everything I’m interested in writing about one day
  3. Third, I compare the first two lists and see where they intersect. I look for four main topics from this process
  4. Fourth, I brainstorm sub-categories to fit under the four main topics by looking at what people are already asking about, by watching what other people are talking about and by writing about things I think my ideal reader will resonate with

Have you tried this method before? I’d love to compare notes!

Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn't figure out how to brainstorm ideas. Sitting down to write became terrifying.

Other articles on this subject

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles answers the heartbreaking question no one wants to ask: How do you carry on after your soulmate dies?

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles Review Header

I suppose no one really knows how they’ll respond to a loved one’s death until it happens. If author Laura Fahrenthold’s experience is an indication, the process of grief isn’t linear.

Over a four year period, The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles takes readers on a cross-country journey of escape, self-discovery and letting go. It documents a family wrestling with losing their patriarch and fighting to continue living, despite having no idea what to do next.

For this family, an impromptu RV purchase becomes their salvation. It helped them deal with their loss in their own way. Their various summer road trips take them around North America, into the great outdoors and include many encounters with interesting people. Their experiences range from gut-wrenching sorrow to hilarious awkwardness and everything in between.

…the most effective tragedies are punctuated by moments of comic relief, giving people a chance to recuperate emotionally before the next painful blow hits.

Released June 26, 2018, The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story is available at many outlets including Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Hudson Booksellers, Indiebound, Indigo, Penguin Random House and Walmart.

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles answers the heartbreaking question no one wants to ask, How do you carry on after your soulmate dies?

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story synopsis

When Bloomberg journalist Mark Pittman suddenly died, his widow spent four summers driving 31,152 miles searching for answers.

In her fearless memoir, The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story, author Laura Fahrenthold presents a moving portrait of marriage, motherhood and mourning as she captains a 1993 RV sprinkling her husband’s ashes with their two young daughters and a stray dog in an epic quest for healing and understanding. Filled with insight and wit from a career in journalism, the story captures the family’s adventures and misadventures, her deeply-layered love story, and her hilarious slice-of-life dispatches where the pink steering wheel becomes her spiritual GPS.

Other reviews

KiiPix Review | Smartphone Photo Printer

Ever wonder how to print photos from your smartphone? KiiPix from TOMY offers a convenient solution to print photos from your mobile in minutes.

KiiPix Review

I’ve seen those cute modern-day Polaroids at big celebrations but I’ve never seen one that could print photos from your phone. What a modern-day convenience! KiiPix Smartphone Picture Printer offers an affordable, portable solution (is there any other kind?) allowing users to print photos in minutes. And I got one in pink!

The smartphone printer itself looks like a mini camera and in a way it is, you start by loading the film (I used Fujifilm Instax Mini Rainbow Film for this review) into the KiiPix, then set up the smartphone station. You place your phone on top of the KiiPix and hit the shutter, essentially taking a photo of a photo. Then you crank the knob a few times and a little instant photo pops out! A few minutes of developing later and you have a physical photo that came off of your smartphone. Voila

When I first set the contraption up I was quite nervous I was doing it wrong so I put together a little demonstration should anyone else have the same fear. It’s easy. You’ve got this. And your kids are going to love it.

The photo printer/camera itself runs you about $50. I grabbed mine from ToysRUs and it arrived a few days later—shipping included.

I think this is a fun device and can’t wait to set up my memory wall with all my new photos.

Official KiiPix Smartphone Printer description

  • SMARTPHONE PRINTER: Instantly print favorite photos from your smartphone. It’s easy to use: Place film, place phone, and print!
  • PORTABLE PHOTO PRINTER: No batteries or cords required. Take it anywhere! It’s compact and folds flat for easy travel.
  • PHOTO SCANNER: Add fun filters or just get rid of the red-eye and then use KiiPix to scan those photos right to the film. You can easily print your pictures to hold on to!
  • NO INSTANT CAMERA NEEDED: The KiiPix only requires FUJIFILM Instax mini film (sold separately) and your phone to provide you with fun prints.
  • THE BEST PICTURES: For the best pictures, make sure your screen lock is on and that you turn the phone’s brightness all the way up.
  • THE PERFECT SIZE: The credit-card size pictures produced by the photo printer are the perfect size for wallets. Photo Size: 3.4 in. x 2.1 in. and Image Size: 2.4 in. x 1.8 in.

Ever wonder how to print photos from your smartphone? KiiPix from TOMY offers a convenient solution to print photos from your mobile in minutes.

Other reviews

How to Create a Writing Schedule | 3 Steps

When you’re ready to write a book and you know the genre and how many words it will be, your next step is to create a writing schedule.

Create a Writing Schedule

A lot of people skip this step and launch into writing their book. And I get it, you’re enthusiastic. You want to dive right in. Whee! But if you are serious about finishing your book (not just starting) then take a minute to create a writing schedule. You won’t regret it.

I’m skipping past a couple important pieces of the book writing process, researching and outlining. Make sure you also build in time for this but know it’s not part of the book writing part—it’s extra.

How to create a writing schedule

When you create a writing schedule you’re building a strategy to ensure writing becomes integrated into your lifestyle so you reach your larger goals. This strategy prepares you for days you don’t feel like writing or for illness or for whatever else life throws at you.

Step one: decide when you want to complete your first draft. Your first draft won’t be your final product, but getting this first draft done is one of the biggest steps in the book-writing process. Pick a specific date and write it down.

Step two: Figure out how many words per day you can write. You’ll hear about people who can write thousands of words per day and expect you can do the same. Don’t assume. The average amount of words you can write per day or in one sitting is different for everyone so learn what works best for you and build your schedule around it. Once you know this number, write it down.

Step three: Build a realistic writing schedule. To write a book you need blocks of focused time. How much do you have available? What do you need to put in place to protect it? When you make time to write in your day-to-day schedule there’s a much better chance of it happening. So make time. Block it out in your calendar. Put it in your schedule. Say you’re unavailable during writing time. And make sure it’s sustainable so you stick with it.

Want these tips for yourself? Download the printable below.

Once you have your end date, your average daily word count and your writing schedule decided it’s time to work backwards. Start with the end in mind and break up your book into monthly, then weekly, then daily goals. Build in time for the unexpected—remember, we’re working with reality here and life happens even when we’re writing a book.

By taking time to create a writing schedule you change your internal dialogue from “Someday I’ll write a book,” to “By THIS DATE I’ll write a book.” That’s a huge difference. And by breaking down this massive project into small, daily steps, it won’t be so overwhelming. Each day you’ll sit at your writing station with purpose and you’ll write. And by your deadline, if you’ve planned it well, you’ll finish your book.

By taking time to create a writing schedule you change your internal dialogue from "Someday I'll write a book," to "By THIS DATE I'll write a book." That's a huge difference.

Create strategies so you stick to your schedule. There will be days you don’t feel like writing. Find ways to write anyway.

This training is part of the Writer’s Breakfast Workshops happening October 13 and October 27, 2018. Join in!